Skeletal tower 2006

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News Archives 2006
(latest entry at the top, blog style)

For other years, please click here to go back to the News page.


Annual Meeting of December 12, 2006
Announcement: Lee Murdock benefit concert
Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, November 9, 2006
Meeting with DNR of November 9, 2006
Board meeting of November 7, 2006
Board meeting of October 12, 2006
October working week on South Fox
FILA at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Foundation potluck
News from the mainland and the lighthouse III
Working week on South Fox
News from the mainland and the lighthouse II
Board meeting of July 10, 2006
News from the mainland and the lighthouse
Another visit to the lighthouse, June 14, 2006
Spring visit to South Fox Light, May 24, 2006
Board meeting of May 8, 2006
Boat moved to Northport
Web site migration
FILA Board meets with MDNR staff
Board meeting of April 3, 2006
Presentation at the Chicago Maritime Festival
Board meeting of March 6, 2006
Annual meeting of the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance
Board meeting of February 22, 2006
FILA has obtained non-profit status
Presentation at the GTB Power Squadron meeting
Further activities in January 2006
Meeting with GT Power Squadron

Boat Inspection

Web Site of the Year!

For other years, please click here to go back to the News page.

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Annual Board Meeting of December 12, 2006

The board and five supporters met for a potluck lunch and the Annual Meeting at the Children's Museum in Traverse City.   

The bylaws, updated by George Carpenter, were approved and the official copy for the association's paper file was signed by John McKinney, Sandy Bradshaw and Phil von Voigtlander.

The staggered terms for the board members were assigned by random drawing. The officers' duties were reviewed by John McKinney, and a motion concerning maintaining the legacy officers was approved.

Von Voigtlander presented the financial report of 2006 and pointed out that the budget for 2007 is an order of magnitude higher. Several grant applications were discussed. Sandy reported on the state of preparation for the benefit concert of February 28, jointly sponsored by FILA and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. The board thanked Phil for providing the trees for the Christmas Ship holiday tree sale. Plans for additional promotional materials to be designed by Cathy Allchin were discussed.

To read Phil's complete minutes please click here.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Phil von Voigtlander's minutes
December 29, 2006

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Announcement: Lee Murdock benefit concert

The Leelanau Lights Benefit Concert
for the Grand Traverse and South Fox Island Lights

with Chicago Maritime Folk Musician Lee Murdock
and a Silent Auction will be held
on February 28th, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.
at the Suttons Bay High School Auditorium.

Lee is a wonderful maritime musician, his folk songs are loved by both young and old.  He currently has twelve CDs recorded and widely available wherever fine music is sold.
The concert is a fundraiser for both  the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum and the South Fox Island Lighthouse.

Tickets: $10.00 adult, $5.00 students.  

A fun and beneficial time for all! Tickets are sellling fast!  Please reserve soon.
Phone the GTLHM for tickets: 231 386-7195.

Also of note; Phil von Voigtlander, Secretary/Treasurer of FILA has kindly and goodheartedly (and with a lot of strong effort!) donated pine trees to the GTLHM Christmas Tree Ship from his and his wife Barbara's Northport acreage.   

Thank you Phil!  These earnings from the sale of the trees will help much to both our lights.

Sandy Bradshaw
December 6, 2006

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Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, November 9, 2006

The volunteers that helped to make FILA's first year at the Island a great success met over dinner in Northport. In addition to toasting our season with South Fox Light (a black strap ale featuring Island hops), we enjoyed a fine dinner sponsored by Barb von Voigtlander. Afterwards, Phil reviewed the individuals' contributions, John McKinney summarized our season review with the DNR, and Stephanie Staley, director of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, updated the group on the relationship of FILA and GTLHM. We discussed the task list for next season and the opportunities and needs for additional volunteers. The group provided generous support to FILA and a great time was had by all!

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner 2006
Nice get-together at the Eat Spot in Northport.

Phil von Voigtlander
November 9, 2006

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Meeting with the DNR of November 9, 2006

On November 9th, members of the FILA Board met with the local DNR, district supervision and State historical properties representatives. We were accompanied by Stef Staley of our sister organization, GTHLM.

Von Voigtlander presented an overview of FILA with the assistance of a computer graphic slide show that was generated and revised for the occasion by Board member Cathy Allchin. This presentation provided an excellent preface to the subsequent discussion of our 2006 annual report, 2007 task list and projected budget.

The DNR indicated their appreciation for all that we had done and endorsed our task list for 2007. Based on the latter, they immediately issued the extension of the use permit through the end of the 2007 season.

Much of the discussion then centered on the issue of finances. We emphasized that the FILA budget is a fraction of the expenses that the DNR would incur to complete the listed tasks and discussed our ongoing efforts to secure grants from various sources. The DNR will support these efforts with letters of endorsement and application submission as is appropriate. They will also work with their state leadership to directly secure funding for us and at the least to make surplus materials available to us. 

The two hour meeting provided the basis for a continued and productive partnership with the DNR to protect and preserve the Fox Island Light Station.

Phil von Voigtlander
November 10, 2006

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Board meeting of November 7, 2006

The board met at the Children's Museum in Traverse City and welcomed Stephanie Staley, director of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum.

Phil von Voigtlander reported on the financial situation and the budget for next year. The bylaws, based on those of the former Fox Island Education Association, were approved and put into force.

Stef Staley was nominated to the FILA Advisory Council. Materials for a meeting with the local branch of the Department of Natural resources, scheduled for Nov. 9, prepared by Phil, were reviewed. The Annual Meeting, as specified by the bylaws, was scheduled for Dec. 12 at the Children's Museum.

Stef reviewed grants that FILA might wish to pursue and provided useful advice. Various promotional events and projects were discussed, such as the GTLHM Christmas Tree Ship, a benefit concert by Lee Murdock on Feb. 28 in Suttons Bay, a presentation of the South Fox Island Lighthouse Restoration Project at the Chicago Maritime Festival on Feb. 24, new brochures to be issued by the GTLHM, highlighting the cooperation between the two lights, a FILA membership promotion brochure designed by Cathy Allchin, and the lightkeeper partnership project in cooperation with the GTLHM.

The task list for 2007, prepared by Phil, was approved.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Phil von Voigtlander's minutes
November 14, 2006

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Board meeting of October 12, 2006

On Thursday, October 12 the FILA Board met over lunch for the purpose of inducting a new member  -  George Carpenter. In addition we discussed our completed season on the island (with pictures from George and Phil), reviewed the FILA presentation at the potluck of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Foundation and dates for upcoming FILA events. Informal discussions of many FILA issues further enriched the meal.

George brings to the Board a background in the investigative branch of the MDEQ, experience in working through the grant application and supervision aspects of projects and has a proven passion for restoring the South Fox Lighthouse as he took responsibility for the seasons work on preparing and painting the metal work on the historic light.

The Board wishes to thank Cathy Allchin for her presentation, which made our appearance at the GTLF potluck a great success. Cathy provided high quality graphics and text for John Nelson to talk from.

Hans .Joerg Rothenberger, based on the minutes by Phil von Voigtlander
Nov. 6, 2006

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October working week on South Fox

On October 5, 2006, Todd Huck, George Carpenter, John McKinney and Phil von Voigtlander went to the light station. Todd, assisted by Phil on the safety lines, completed the removal of vegetation from the three chimneys of the assistant keepers' quarters, prepared the chimneys for capping and patched a damaged roof area. George and John continued painting the metal work of the lantern room. Todd and George returned to Northport in the evening.

The next few days, John focused on completing the metal work painting, then cleared the walkways and cleaned up the interior of the light tower. Phil patched and primed the roof of the oil house, and John painted it. Then Phil completed excavating the huge overfill along the south wall of the boat house and braced up the north wall with wooden T beams.

The return to the mainland, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 8, was delayed by two days due to inclement weather. However, there still was enough work. Phil and John assessed the condition of the fog signal building. Phil covered the broken windows and secured the door to the catwalk deck. They entered the family apartment of the keepers' quarters through the attic and found it in better condition than the bachelors' apartments.

On Monday, they installed the shutters including a set of custom-made shutters for the lantern room of the old lighthouse. John continued clearing walkways and revealing their destinations.

On Tuesday, in a brief weather window before the arrival of the next cold front, Andy Thomas and George Carpenter returned to the island. They installed the three chimney caps made by Andy, patched a roof section of the lighthouse office and installed a cap on top of the lantern room to temporarily replace the missing ventilator. John completed the metal painting. Phil closed up all the historic buidlings for the winter and removed two trees that were damaging the roof of the carpenter's shop.  

The crew left the light station in the late afternoon of October 10. Now the structures are sufficiently repaired and secured to stick out another winter without further damage.


Landing equipment at the dock
Landing equipment at the dock.

Todd clearing a chimney
Todd removing vegetation from a chimney on top of the assistant keepers' quarters. 

Inside the family apartment
First inspection of the family apartment in the assistant keepers' quarters.

Phil bracing the boat house wall
Phil stabilized the north wall of the boathouse.

Surf at the dock
John on the dock. Not quite the weather
for a safe return to the mainland...

John painting the oil house roof
John painting the roof of the oil house, seen from the lantern room of the old lighthouse.

Repairing the lighthouse roof
Andy (left) covering damaged areas of the lighthouse roof, with George on the safety lines.

Chimneys covered
Andy is completing the installation of the chimney caps.

Boarded-up lantern room
The lantern room is boarded up and painted, with the roof in red as it formerly was.

Leaving the island
Heading for the mainland just before the weather
turns nasty again.

To read Phil's complete report please click here.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Phil von Voigtlander's report
Oct. 15, 2006
Photos courtesy of Phil von Voigtlander and George Carpenter

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FILA at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Foundation potluck

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Foundation invited FILA board members to speak at their fall potluck on Thursday, October 5, 2006. John Nelson gave a very personal and informative speech using our new PowerPoint presentation designed by Cathy Allchin. Nelson highlighted the close affinity South Fox Island has to Northport.  
Along with Cathy and John, Sandy was on hand and introduced John, with some additional comments. We are delighted with this new collaborative effort with GTLHF. It will help both these lights cut down on costs for special events and advertising etc. A few details are still being worked out, but it is a beneficial relationship for both lights. A special thanks to GTLHF for their "umbrella support"  -  and this since one of our very first official meetings where we met at the Grand Traverse Light. 

Sandy Bradshaw
October 13, 2006

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News from the mainland and the lighthouse III

On Sept. 19, 2006, a FILA board meeting was held in Traverse City. The financial situation was reported by Phil von Voigtlander  -  not much elbow room, but the group can manage, especially thanks to a lot of volunteer work.

Detailed plans for work on the island for the rest of the season were made. A post-season meeting with the Department of Natural Resources is being planned. FILA's efforts are appreciated by the DNR.

Phil detailed his plans for complete reconditioning of the FILA boat engines. They had been informally discussed already prior to the meeting, including Phil's generous offer as to the financial aspects. His plans were accepted by the board.

Membership issues, an end-of-the-season get-together for all our volunteers, an addition to the board, funding, and various PR projects including public presentations were discussed too.

Meanwhile back at the boat yard, the engines had been pulled out by the ever so helpful crew at Gull Island Marine in Northport. Andy Thomas and Phil hauled the boat back to Phil's boat shed for further work mainly on the engine compartment.

On Sept. 28, 2006, Sandy Bradshaw and Phil von Voigtlander met with Stephanie Staley, director of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. They learned that the semi-permanent South Fox exhibition at the museum will be kept open for another year, including improvements to the showroom and additions to the exhibits to be provided by FILA. Several other very interesting PR projects in favor of the South Fox Island Lighthouse were suggested by Stef too. That's great news. Many thanks to Stef and the museum board!  

If weather permits, another work party will take place at the lighthouse the next weekend.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on minutes by Phil von Voigtlander and Sandy Bradshaw
Oct. 3, 2006

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Working week on South Fox Island

On Sept. 6, 2006, John McKinney, Phil von Voigtlander, Andy Thomas, George Carpenter and Ron Fitzsimmons went to the lighthouse aboard Andy's boat. A lot of hard work was done on this first day, such as securing the chimney of the old lighthouse, before Andy and Ron returned to the Northport.

On subsequent days, John and George prepped, primed and painted most of the metal structures on the old lighthouse (including the cupola roof) and the oil house. Phil stabilized the lopsided boathouse and repaired the collapsed wall at its southeast corner.

Andy returned to the light station with Tom and Deb Wetherbee on Sept. 10. Using climbing gear and ladders, Andy, Deb and Tom cleaned the eves of the keepers' quarters' roof, replaced missing gable tiles with galvanized formed sheeting, assessed the chimneys and removed vegetation from them.

After 5 days, due to near gale-force wind one day later than originally scheduled, the crew safely returned to the mainland.

Andy working on the lighthouse chimney
Andy working on the chimney of the old lighthouse.

Phil stabilizing the boathouse.

Chipping the lantern room
George (front) and John chipping
and painting the lantern room.

Painting oil house door
John painting the door of the
oil house.

Repairing roof leaks
Tom repairing leaks on the roof of
the assistant keepers' quarters.

Painting lantern room roof
Andy painting the roof of the old
lantern room, assisted by George.

A detailed report by Phil can be viewed here (in .PDF format).

Many thanks to all you guys!   

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Phil von Voigtlander's report
Sept. 17, 2006
Photos courtesy of Phil von Voigtlander

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News from the mainland and the lighthouse II

Much has been done since our previous article on this page. Before Joerg's arrival from his homeland, Switzerland, Phil von Voigtlander sailed to South Fox Island several times, partly for work, partly for introducing friends to our lighthouse project.  

In Phil's boat shed in Northport, the boat was thoroughly cleaned. Phil reconditioned and tested the electric circuitry. Matt Lehner of Suttons Bay kindly volunteered compression checking on the engines. However, due to lay-up oil in the cylinders, much could not be done without the boat being launched to ensure proper cooling.

Sandy cleaning the salon bunk Sandy vacuuming one of the salon bunks.

Joerg installing navigation equipment
Joerg installing navigation equipment.

Preparation of the transom
John McKinney (left) and Phil preparing the transom for the new "Lightkeeper" lettering.

Matt checking one of the engines
Matt Lehner checking cylinders of the starboard engine.

On August 12, 2006, FILA was represented at the Northport Wine & Food Festival by Sandy, Phil and Joerg. They ran a booth next to the one of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay at the Marina, where Phil also showed the Baykeeper tug boat to the public.

The FILA booth at Northport Marina
Sandy and Laddie representing FILA at the Northport Wine & Food Festival.

The Baykeeper Tug boat
Phil showing the Baykeeper tug boat at the Northport Marina.

The board held several informal meetings, discussing various matters such as the work on the boat, impending public events, ideas for gathering more information on the history of the light station etc..

Working lunch at Phil's
Working lunch at Phil's; from left to right: Sandy, John McKinney and Phil.

Working dinner at Sandy's
Discussing historical stuff with Greg at Sandy's after Joerg's Greek dinner.

On August 16, the FILA boat was launched by volunteers of Gull Island Marine in Northport. Those very helpful guys also did initial engine checks. In 2005, the donators had notified the group of problems with one of the engines. The tests revealed troubles in at least one of the cylinders of the starboard engine. A solution is now being sought.

Phil, Joerg and the Lightkeeper
Two seasoned skippers...

The boat in slings
The boat being lifted off the trailer.

The boat touching water
Touching the water of Big Blue after several years high and dry.  

Engine checks afloat
Phil (left) watching engine checks done by the experts of Gull Island Marine.  

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum organized a special South Fox Island Lighthouse Day on August 19. The FILA board ran a booth in front of the South Fox Lighthouse exhibit of the museum. Although the weather wasn't exactly inviting, John McKinney, Phil, Sandy and Joerg could welcome many visitors, and important contacts were made.

The FILA booth at the GTLM
The FILA booth in front of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum.

History teacher Phil
Phil explaining the history of the light station to visitors.

One of the visitors at the museum event was Andy Thomas of Thomas & Milliken Millwork, Inc., in Northport. He spontaneously offered a ride to South Fox. That outing took place on August 22. Shortly after sunrise, Sandy, Phil, Joerg and Charles Anderson boarded Andy's boat in Northport and headed for South Fox.

Approaching anchorage Charles looking out for rocks while approaching the anchorage.

Crew ashore
Bringing equipment and crew ashore is pretty difficult.

At the light station, Charles, the owner of Leelanau Tree Service, immediately climbed the trees next to the buildings and began lopping limbs that posed a risk to the structures. He is not only a real chain saw wizard, but also an avid hunter who knows the island like the back of his hand. And, of course, he knows that some people say the gun-shot damage on some parts of the building were caused by hunters, an assertion he firmly disputes.

Charles cutting tree limbs Charles cutting tree limbs in front of the assistant keepers' quarters.

Back yard jungle
Jungle behind the assistant keepers' quarter before clearing up.

Overgrowth on roof
Roof being gradually overgrown
due to humification.

Back yard cleared
Front yard of the assistant keepers' quarters
after clearing.

Andy assessed interior joinery details. Phil boarded up some of the windows, then joined Sandy and Andy, who had begun to clear away the wood cut by Charles. Meanwhile Joerg shot about 450 photos of the light station buildings and surroundings. Using Phil as a step-ladder, Charles also climbed up to the attic of the assistant keepers' building, which he found in virtually perfect condition.

Boarding up Phil (left) and Andy boarding up a broken staircase window.

Inspecting the attic
Charles inspecting the attic of the assistant keepers quarters.

Sandy harvesting hops
  Sandy in the back yard, harvesting wild hops for Phil's South Fox Light Brew.

Joerg collecting wood
Joerg pretending to be doing some yard clearing too.

After a great day of fruitful work in perfect weather, the crew returned to Northport in the evening sun.

Swim before leaving
A refreshing swim after a lot of hard work.

Andy at the helm
Our skipper, Andy, at the helm.

Leaving South Fox behind
Leaving South Fox behind.

We'd like to thank Andy and Charles for their generous help. Many thanks also to the crew of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum for their hospitality.

A more comprehensive collection of photos can be viewed on our Gallery page.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Aug. 27, 2006

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Board meeting of July 10, 2006

John McKinney, John Nelson and Phil von Voigtlander met in Traverse City after a successful meeting with the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR approved of FILA's task list. The portion of work to be performed by the DNR is subject to internal negotiation, though.

The board accepted the resolution of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum concerning cooperation with FILA. We look forward to working closely with the GTLM in mutually beneficial ways to preserve the Fox Island Light and in the process establish GTLM as a regional leader in lighthouse preservation. For viewing the resolution issued by the GTLM board please click here.

Phil reported on the financial situation, still on a pretty low budget, of course. Expenses for liability insurance (required for the use permit issued by the DNR), the boat and public PR were discussed and approved by the board.

Membership fees, new contacts and plans for completing urgent tasks on the island were discussed.

Hans .Joerg Rothenberger, based on the minutes by Phil von Voigtlander
July 13, 2006

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News from the mainland and the lighthouse

The title transfer of the boat was completed on June 16, 2006. Assisted by Sandy, Phil is removing redundant equipment from the boat. They are cleaning the accommodations below deck.   

A great FILA poster for presentations, booths at harbor festivals and the like was designed by Cathy Allchin, founder of the Fox Island Education Association, out of which FILA was born. Click here to see the poster in .PDF format (500 KB). Thank you very much Cathy!

Phil represented FILA at the Northport Harbor Days on July 2, 2006, where, as he put it, some good contacts were made.

George Carpenter and Phil motor-sailed to the lighthouse on June 28. They spent the evening and the following day assessing damage, repairing windows and metalwork in and around the lantern room and clearing brush along the walkways. A prototype shutter to the lantern room windows, made by Phil, was tested. After another night at anchor and a hike to the bluffs, they sailed back to Northport on June 30.

According to Phil, the trip showed "that a robust aluminum shore boat or inflatable is needed to handle the rough landing area, and that being dropped off to camp and work for several days would be much more effective and efficient than counting on calm anchorages for more than one night."   

Many thanks to Cathy Allchin, who gave us permission to post Bradley Boeses excellent article on his visits to ths South Fox light station, originally published on her Fox Island Education Association Web site in January 2002. Please click here to read his report.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
July 4, 2006

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Another visit to the lighthouse, June 14, 2006

Today we completed our second assessment tour of the Lighthouse complex. Although our DNR colleagues needed to cancel out, we had a good day of acquainting the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Director, Stef Staley, and one of their board members with the property. The crew was rounded out by Capt Ron, Bill Collins and Phil.

We found the assistants quarters in generally good condition with the exception of evidence of water incursion in 2 rooms of the upper story (fallen plaster) consistent with our earlier observations of localized roof damage from overhanging trees. We did not enter the more secure western apartments of the building at this time.

The carpentry shed is open but in good shape and could be used as shelter during work visits. The condition of the fog signal building is fair; a portion of the ceiling has collapsed and the exterior is in need of sandblasting, priming and painting. This is a large scale effort that we consider to be of lower priority at this time.

A report by Bill Collins covering the boathouse will be published in the near future.

Phil von Voigtlander
June 14, 2006

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Spring visit to South Fox Light, May 24, 2006

FILA Board members John Nelson and Phil von Voigtlander in the company of FILA supporters Bill Collins and Harvey Van Dam completed a preliminary inspection of the Lighthouse complex. The trip aboard Bill's boat went well despite changing weather conditions; a squall line hit just as we reboarded the boat from the shore and gave a lively sail back to the Bay.

We have documented in numerous photos the general condition of the buildings and special problem areas that need our attention this season.

The whole inspection report can be downloaded as a .PDF file (1.15 MB): Inspection Report

John Nelson & yacht
John Nelson on the beach, with Bill's yacht at anchor.

Boathouse from SE
The boathouse next to the former dock, seen from southeast.

Inside the boathouse
Inside the boathouse.

Old lighthouse from NE
The old lighthouse from northeast.

Inside the old lighthouse
Inside the old lighthouse.

Chimney seen from lantern room
Looking north from the lantern room.

 Assistant keepers quarters seen from the lantern room
View from the lantern room westward to the assistant keepers quarter.

Assistant keepers quarters from SE
Southern side of the assistant keepers quarter.

Phil von Voigtlander
May 29, 2006

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Board meeting of May 8, 2006

John McKinney, John Nelson and Phil von Voigtlander met in Traverse City. Phil reported on his efforts to recruit members, so far mainly based on correspondence in the guestbook of the South Fox Web site. Phil is also in touch with Jan Nickerson at Brittany Banners for the development of a poster to be displayed at various places such as the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, other local museums, marinas etc..

Bylaw procedures were discussed as well as correspondence and the future structure of the board. Phil is working with Stephanie Staley of the GTLighthouse Museum to define a closer cooperation between the two light stations. Stef will present the proposal to her board this month.

With the boat now being safely stored in Phil's boat shed, plans were made for the next steps to be taken. A trip to the island aboard another boat is scheduled for May 24, with evaluation of the most urgent measure, general assessment and documentation as the main items on the agenda.

H.J. Rothenberger, based on the minutes by Phil von Voigtlander
May 16, 2006

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Boat moved to Northport

Although not strictly speaking a trailable boat, the motor vessel Lightkeeper was delivered today via a borrowed trailer (Phil von Voigtlander's) and a volunteer (Jack Nowland) tow master. Jack is the president of the local sports fishing association and a member of the Watershed Board of Directors. His F-350 diesel truck and well honed trailer maneuvering skills brought the Lightkeeper safely into the boat shed where she will be recommissioned for Fox Island duty.

Boat in front of Phil's boat shed Jack and the boat in front of Phil's boat shed.

Boat inside Phil's boat shed
The boat inside the boat shed.

Phil von Voigtlander
May 6, 2006

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Web site migration: new host, new URL

The entire FILA Web site has been moved to a new Web host with servers and backup systems in several countries. This will make access more reliable, and the ample storage space we now have will enable us to incorporate additional features on our Web site.

The new URL (a.k.a. Internet address) is (with or without leading "www." The old URLs like, etc. will still work, so visitors won't notice a difference other than different URLs in the address field of their Web browser. However, in order to make access as reliable as possible, we suggest you use the new URL of our Home page as your bookmark (or Favorite in Microsoftese).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
April 27, 2006

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FILA board meets with MDNR staff

On April 13, 2006 FILA board members, Phil vonVoightlander, Sandy Bradshaw and John McKinney met with Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff, Craig Gulseth and Ham Hobson to exchange thoughts on how FILA goals will mesh with DNR responsibilities 
regarding the South Fox Island Lighthouse.

We talked about island access, sharing work projects, insurance liability, a temporary / seasonal dinghy dock, past volunteer efforts and respecting property lines as these fit into our short term, medium term and long term plans to care for the light buildings and grounds.

This meeting served many purposes and likely will be repeated as we progress with our activities. Craig and Ham expressed their satisfaction with FILA and agreed to work closely with us.

John McKinney
April 24, 2006

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Board meeting of April 3, 2006

Phil von Voigtlander, Sandy Bradshaw and John McKinney met in Traverse City and discussed a wide agenda. Much of it was spent on the details of organizing a non-profit, working with the various government agencies, and details on the boat we shall soon bring to Phil's boat shop in Northport.

Laura Heintzelman, Manager of the Great Lakes Nonprofit Institute at Northwestern Michigan College, soon joined us. Her advice and direction were invaluable!  We will continue to work with her in our quest to raise the necessary funds for the light.

It was noted that there is an important difference between Preservation and Restoration. As soon as possible after our initial inspection with experts and the DNR, the goal is to have the light sealed up against the harsh elements before next winter falls upon us. Laura mentioned it is essential to convey to all the significance of this light in our Great Lakes. That is the beginning of the preservation part. As to the restoration, where the light is to be brought close to her original state - we are willing to work with that end goal in mind.

How long this will take, no one knows. How much shall this finally cost? The light is in need of much - hence we spoke of the necessity to create a membership of patrons, persons who see her significance and graciously donate their time and financial aid. We as board members also realize we too must give financial aid, setting the proper example.

Later, Leelanau county builder John Evans, and Traverse City photographer Chuck Brackett joined us. Both asked excellent questions and the conversation was lively and informative. This project being in the initial stages, there are questions none of us know the answer to, but we all share in the firm desire and commitment to save South Fox Island Light.

Sandy Bradshaw
April 5, 2006

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Presentation at the Chicago Maritime Festival

John Nelson and Phil von Voigtlander prepared a presentation for the Chicago Maritime Festival to be held on March 11, 2006. John's historical relationship to the Light and his ability to personalize the South Fox story made him the first choice to present the talk; however in the case of logistical problems either one carried a copy of the presentation and was prepared to present it. Good planning! John presented while Phil was trapped on a stalled train. The presentation was well received and well attended. As we progress with the Lighthouse project, this festival will be a good place to update the broader regional audience.

Phil von Voigtlander
March 13, 2006

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Board meeting of March 6, 2006

FILA board members John McKinney, John Nelson, Phil von Voigtlander, and Brandon Fewins, regional manager for US Senator Debbie Stabenow, met in Traverse City to outline future actions and strategies:

John Nelson will present our project to the public at the Chicago Maritime Festival on March 11, assisted by Phil.

Phil is preparing a mid May trip to the lighthouse to start documentation and evaluation. Several options for transportation are being checked.

John McKinney is contacting the Great Lakes Nonprofit Institute. He and Phil are planning on attending the institute's fund raising workshop. John also contacted the MI Department of Natural Resources concerning a work permit for the summer.

Based on a guestbook entry on our Website, Sandy Bradshaw is being in touch with Henry Kotula, born in Australia, who provided quite a lot of useful ideas for the development of our organization and the project proper.

Plans are being made for a moniker / motto that can be incorporated into a logo and flag to underline our presence and involvement.

Brandon Fewins was invited to the board meeting by Sandy. His input was very useful. He reported on the support for three other lighthouse projects in Michigan through the Preserve America First legislation last year and is looking in possibilities for 2006. He also provided important advice for grant applications.

The board is working on issuing new bylaws.

Phil von Voigtlander
March 12, 2006

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Annual meeting of the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance

The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance annual meeting was held February 24 in Gaylord. Approximately 20 persons attending enjoyed great camaraderie and swapping information. South Fox light was the only group there that was just getting started. 

Two huge issues loom in the forefront for the light organizations in the whole country. The first issue is that of bottomlands.  A Bottomlands Use Permit may be required in order to transfer a light. This does not (currently) apply to S. Fox to my knowledge, but it involves 42 lighthouses - 1/3 of the state's lighthouses. The issue is being discussed with higher-ups in the government (DEQ etc), and may go before legislation in the near future.

The other important issue which does affect South Fox is that of liability insurance. Before we will be granted the one-year Land Use permit from the DNR, we will be required to carry it. And apparently, this kind of insurance is not easy to procure. Anyone reading this with any knowledge underwriting lights - please contact us ASAP.

FILA is now a member of the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance. 

Sandy Bradshaw
Feb. 25, 2006

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Board meeting of February 22, 2006

John McKinney, Sandy Bradshaw and Phil von Voigtlander met in downtown Traverse City to discuss the following topics:

Great Lakes Water Institute has received grants to help non-profits. John is contacting the institute to see what help FILA may possibly get. Money is in grants. The law was changed a few years ago  -  the State creating the Alliance to have non-profits take over the lights and find funding / grants. "There's a competitive atmosphere among light groups to get money," as Phil put it. Sandy said she will look into learning to write grants, as we need someone ASAP and that is us.

John said, "We have to prove ourselves to the State - take what we learn (after assessment), talk to them. There are lots of steps, but we are taking them, one small step at a time." He mentioned the restoration of St. Helena; they have been at it two decades now!.

Our final thought was to have FILA attend the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance annual meeting in Gaylord on February 24th in Gaylord and ask if we may join the alliance.  Also to glean what we can at the meeting in spearheading our efforts towards rescuing the South Fox lighthouse.

Sandy Bradshaw
Feb. 24, 2006

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FILA has obtained non-profit status

John McKinney e-mailed Sandy Bradshaw February 19th with the words we all have so eagerly awaited, "The IRS designation is 501-c-3. And we got the letter today. We have it!" In other words, our association now has non-profit status. What wonderful news! Now we can forge ahead with all of our ideas and aspirations - making our plans to restore the lonely little lighthouse.   

Sandy had joined with three other groups over the past fifteen years, each who attempted to start efforts in rescuing the light - and each of those gave up. When John returned from Europe in the late summer of 2004, Sandy called and the two of them met, and over lunch decided, ""Let's go for it!'" 

Ever since that momentous (for us at least!) lunch, things have just kept progressing better and better. Obstacles were overcome, there have been no "strains on the reins" so to speak. The right people are coming aboard, at the right time. Ahead we go and we won't give up!

Sandy Bradshaw
Feb. 20, 2006

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Presentation at the GTB Power Squadron meeting

The Grand Traverse Bay Power Squadron invited us to make a presentation about the future plans for the S. Fox Island light station. Sandy asked and Phil von Voigtlander kindly consented to give a presentation for our group at the Power Squadron's meeting of February 2nd in Traverse City. Along with him, John Nelson, Baykeeper for the Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay, gave his historical perspective. Nelson comes from a long line of descendants in Northport. Nels Nelson, his great-uncle, was an assistant lightkeeper at the South Fox light. With his Norwegian whimsy, Nelson gave a rendition of his ancestors, mimicking the old-world speech pattern as he sung the lively jig much to the delight of Power Squadron members.

Phil outlined our goals, focusing much on our donated boat and how important it will be to keep our dream alive in being our work boat going to and forth from the mainland and the island. We now have two experienced captains, Phil and our webmaster, Hans Joerg Rothenberger. Phil, who both built and captains the Watershed Center's tugboat, the Baykeeper, also kindly has bought a trailer for the FILA boat so she can be moved safely "home" to the Leelanau. John Nelson will be moving the Baykeeper's summer mooring in front of his family's home at Seven Pines in Northport Point and has graciously offered to let us moor our Fox Islander there. There couldn't be a better place for her. Nelson joked and said, "... as long as she fits in with the neighborhood - no floating 'junk' here!"

Aside from lots of jesting and great food, it was a wonderful evening for all.  We are grateful to the Power Squadron, especially Charlie and Mary Dietrich, for their invitation. Thanks to each who attended.  We hope you will join in our efforts in one way or another, as we all work together to restore this light. 

Art Dundon, John McKinney & Phil From left to right: Art Dundon SN (GTBPS), John McKinney (FILA), John Nelson (GT Baykeeper).

Phil, Sandy & John Nelson
Phil, Sandy and John Nelson.

Presentation by Phil
Phil presenting the South Fox Island
Lighthouse Restoration Project.

Photos courtesy of Mary Dietrich, Northport

Sandy Bradshaw
Feb. 3, 2006

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Further activities in January 2006

On Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006, John McKinney, Sandy Bradshaw and Hans Joerg Rothenberger, met with Ray Minervini of the Minervini Group in Traverse City, the folks pursuing the preservation and restoration of the Grand Traverse Commons, the center of which is known as Building 50. Already last year, Ray had shown interest in our comparatively pretty modest project. His expertise and his connections may be very helpful some day.

John notified us of further delays in the non-profit status application process due to formal requirements such as a budget for 2007  --  as though we could conjure up reliable figures even for 2006.

The next day, Sandy and Joerg visited Phil von Voigtlander at his boat shed in Northport, where the Grand Traverse Baykeeper's tugboat is stored over winter and where maintenance work on the FILA boat can be done in the future. Joerg, who is not quite a novice to boat building, was pleasantly surprised to find a well-equipped and spacious boat workshop. Having gotten Phil aboard sure has been a very important step for our group.

Meeting with Ray Minervini
Meeting at Building 50. From left to right:
Ray Minervini, John McKinney, Sandy Bradshaw.

Phil's boat shed
Phil von Voigtlander's boat shed in Northport.

Phil & the Baykeeper's tugboat Phil and his brainchild, the Baykeeper's tugboat.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Jan 14, 2006

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Meeting with GTB Power Squadron

On Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, our group met with Charlie Dietrich and his wife Mary of Northport, at Sandy Bradshaw's home in Suttons Bay. Last summer, Charlie had asked us to present our restoration project at the Grand Traverse Bay Power Squadron meeting of February 2.

We had a nice get-together with interesting conversation, also concerning the boat. Phil, who joined our group last fall, is an old sailor and skilled boat builder, and Joerg is an old salt, owning a gaff cutter in the Aegean Sea. However, none of them is a real muscle-boater, so contacts to those in the know are important. Terry and Greg Reisig, Barb and Phil von Voigtlander, Mary and Charlie Dietrich spent a nice evening with goodies from Sandy's kitchen including Joerg's Swiss specialties.

Meeting January 06 a From left to right: Greg, Laddie (Sandy's lighthouse mascot), Charlie and Phil.

Meeting January 06 b Mary, Terry, Barb and Sandy.

Meeting January 06 c
Greg, Phil, Sandy and Joerg.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Jan 11, 2006

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Boat Inspection

On January 5, the hard core of our group met in Traverse City with John Nelson, the Baykeeper for the Grand Traverse Region. Nelson has kindly granted a mooring for the boat of our association in front of his family cottage at Northport Point. Actually, there is no place on the entire mainland that is more suitable for mooring our boat than Northport Point, so we are all the more grateful.

After lunch, John McKinnney, Phil von Voigtlander, Sandy Bradshaw, and Hans Joerg Rothenberger, went to Onekama to inspect the boat, which actually still doesn't belong to the FILA due to delays in the non-profit status application process. The boat was in remarkably good condition. Phil, who is the driving force behind the Grand Traverse Baykeeper's tugboat, pumped some water out of the bilges. The hatch scuppers were cleaned to keep precipitation out of the space down below, and some of the equipment below deck was inspected.

Meeting the Baykeeper From left to right: Phil von Voigtlander, Ann and John McKinney, John Nelson, Sandy Bradshaw.

Pumping the bilges Phil (left) and John (well, just parts of him) cleaning the bilges.

Deck saloon
John inside the deck saloon.

The forecabin in mint condition.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Jan 10, 2006

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Northern Michigan Site of the Year!   

Northern Michigan Website of the Year 2005

Our Web site has received the award as Northern Michigan Site of the Year 2005 from the review panel of We are very grateful  -  and a little bit proud too.

Being listed together with Taste The Local Difference (2004), Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine (2003), The Leland Report (2002), Vistas del Campo by the Glen Arbor Art Association and the Leelanau Historical Society (2001), The Senior Corner (2000), and others is quite an honor and, of course, an incentive.

Sandy Bradshaw
Jan. 3, 2006

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For other years, please click here to go back to the News page.




Archived Jan. 16, 2008